Thursday, April 29, 2010

Last day

Today is my last day of law school classes ever. I'm so excited! What is my last class, you ask? Secured transactions. I know that makes it seem even more exciting. I will have more tomorrow but for now I have some homework I need to finish!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More backyard pics with commentary from Paco the dog

Hello everybody, it is Paco here and I will tell you more about my new back yard. As you can see above there are nice and pretty flowers. My two kitty sisters wait for me to get back from the yard when I go outside because they are not allowed outside the confines of our house. They often get in trouble for trying to be tricksters and getting out:
I like to watch the brook behind our house, although I never go into it because I don't know how to swim:
Plus it is too murky and may muss my lustrous coat:
Here I am with nice trees in the background:
That is all for today. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our backyard

Welcome to our new backyard! It was especially nice today because it rained all weekend at our house, so the air felt so fresh!
The deck

A mysterious sculpture:

Monday, April 26, 2010

Artichoke adventures

Last night I attempted to make artichoke risotto. Try to see the recipe here. Anyway, it was delicious, but we had some issues with cleaning the artichoke.
At first I pulled off all of the leaves until I got to the center, but then David read something else online and I chopped off the top and cleaned out the center.
Do you have any artichoke cleaning tips?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fun Thing Friday: Clinique Brandied Bronze Color Surge Eyeshadow Palette

I really like Clinique products and since I am in a more professional field I feel the need to wear makeup to work (now how I trapeze into school is a whole 'nother story). Say what you will, but I think that makeup is fun to wear and I love different products. Last week I went shopping with my friend and we came across this super cute eyeshadow while looking for foundation. Doesn't that seem to always happen? I love the teal and purple colors especially. This is a Nordstrom exclusive so you will have go to there to get it. To purchase the eyeshadow click here.

Also, I like this song right now:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bye, bye, nice hairstylist!

I love my hair stylist. She is so easy to talk to and fun and lets me read magazines. But yesterday I went to her for the last time (this is one of the sadder parts of moving). Sad face. In general, I am really loyal to my hair stylists and when I find one I love, I stick with her or him. This girl was definitely a keeper. Who else can make crazy curly hair get this straight?


So anyway, I'm back to square one. Are you really loyal to your hair stylist?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Funny moment in law school

In a case, the court noted that the jury wrote a note that said, "What does honesty in fact mean? Moral or legal?....What should we do? Where's lunch?"

I thought this was so hilarious that I highlighted it. And what makes it even funnier is that my friend Ashley did too. And we did it independently.

Moving: Well, moving

Our moving experience was pretty quick and easy. We moved the Thursday after Easter Sunday and on Easter Sunday I was at a family member's house, telling them that we had not packed a thing. It was true--we put off packing for a long time. Eventually, I told David that he should just go to the city in which he works and let me and my family pack our house. Since his commute was two hours, he would be of help to us for about an hour. That seemed senseless to me.

So, he packed up his personal belongings on the Sunday before he left.

When we got our offer, we just assumed that we would rent a U-Haul and drive down the highway with all of our stuff. But then my parents generously offered to help us out with hiring a moving company, mostly because I don't think that my mom wanted my dad and father-in-law to have heart attacks while they helped us lift heavy boxes. Plus, my parents had a few furniture items they wanted brought from their house to our new house, like a china cabinet, bedroom set, and dining room table that are quite old. I do not think they trusted that we would move those items safely, which we probably would not have because we have no experience moving.

So, we hired a moving company. My dad met with one company and then we both met with another. The second company was wonderful and friendly. They had the lowest price as well-- score! The deal was that we had to pack everything that was not in a drawer. This provided us with a much easier moving experience than most people. Now some people hire a moving company to do everything- from packing to the moving to the unpacking, and this would have been awesome, but since we are not very old and do not have much stuff the movers even said not to do that because it would have been a waste of money for us.

Our movers were wonderful and professional. They were in and out of our house in 1.5 hours and then unpacked us in about 2 hours. ("Unpacking" meaning set boxes in their respective rooms, assemble the furniture, and put the furniture in place.)

I will admit that packing got a little out of hand at the end because I just didn't know if we would finish. Start early! My other tip is to definitely hire a moving company, unless you still have a college-like move. Seriously, they were worth every penny we paid for them. And if you have kids, pay for them to pack you up. You will definitely not want to watch your kids while you are packing. I could barely handle three animals, and you just get into a zone of packing and feel overwhelmed. Budget the money for movers before you make your down payment on your house.

I have other friends who had a lull in between their two closings, and they rented PODS, which seems like a good option too because they drop off the POD in your driveways. Again, this would probably have been too much extra time and money for us because we needed the movers to go to my parents' house, but that is another good option.

Any other tips on moving?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Moving: finding the right house

I don't have a ton to say about this subject besides that for us, it was a feeling. Do you know how many people tell brides that they will just know when they have their wedding dress because they will FEEL like a bride? Well, for us, it was that we knew that we were in our house becuase we FELT like home.

We looked at many wonderful houses in different areas. We had a general area narrowed down, but some more specific areas were just not giving us the amount of house and updates we wanted for our price point. I also had some specifications about the neighborhood. I didn't want it to feel too suburbia, and I was leaning toward older houses with more "character". I had one that I loved that we would have purchased had we not bought our current home. It was a gorgeous house from the 1960s in a nice area. I will forever wonder who bought our little yellow house and who learned to love it as much as I think I would have. While I loved the house, my husband didn't, and I love the house we bought more than that one anyway.

In the end, we both walked into this house and fell in love with it. We ended up buying a newer house in a more suburban neighborhood, but for some reason I don't think that it feels like suburbia. This may be because our backyard butts up to a wooded area, so if you look out our windows you wouldn't be able to tell that we were in a city at all. I love that aspect of this house.

As you look for houses, you will notice what you do and do not like. For me, I didn't love split level designs. While they provided a lot more room than other designs, most of the layouts were not doing it for me, which eliminated many, many houses.

Another thing to consider is the school district: not only for yourself but also for whoever buys your house after you move again. Our school district is notorious around the state, so I think that when we bought this house we pretty much wrote a ticket to send our kids to religious or private schools (as long as we still live here). This is fine, but is something that, if we were not open to that possibility, would have eliminated this house right away.

What do you consider when looking for a house?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Still settling in!

We are still settling in our new house, which is why I've had light posting over the last few days. This weekend we were also mega busy--we went out for dinner with friends on Friday evening to a delicious place where I enjoyed scallops and risotto...SO good. On Saturday I went shopping with a friend and then that evening wen went out with some of David's work friends. Today we hung out at home but I felt like my productivity level was extremely low.

I really want to get through my moving posts so I can eventually take you on a home tour of our house. Hopefully I can do that this week! In the meantime, I made this delicious Bolognese sauce last night. It was SO tasty. Yum.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Lazy Sunday


We are doing homework, lazying around, and just enjoying the Sunday afternoon outside our windows.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moving: finding a good agent

We were so lucky to find two wonderful agents who fit our style exactly. Both were recommended to us by other people: our selling agent is from my hometown and is who we worked with to buy our first house, and our buying agent was recommended to us by people at David's job. They both had laid-back attitudes but were still very professional.

Finding an agent can be hard, though. If you don't mesh with your agent or if your agent doesn't listen to your ideas and desires, you may end up being taken to many houses that you don't want to see and wasting time. Your selling agent needs to be able to instruct you on how to prep your house to sell, and you need a relationship that allows you to take his or her criticisms well. Do not get insulted when your selling agent makes suggestions for your house: it is their job to sell, sell, sell, and they are professionals in that field!

Another side note: never get advice from your agent and then ask your friends their opinion. For instance, if you get advice from your agent that you don't want to follow, don't ask your friends for a second opinion. They won't tell you the truth if they disagree with you because they will be too polite! Houses are very personal--just don't get offended by suggestions from your agent.

Your buying agent should be able to listen well to you. If you have someone who shows you what he or she likes rather than what you like, you will have a problem and will waste so many hours looking at houses you would never consider buying. Also, don't be afraid to speak up and research on your own. I think that an agent would appreciate it if you gave him or her a list of your house choices because it cuts down the time they spend with you and frees up time for other clients.

What tips do you have for picking a real estate agent?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Moving: the beginning stages and prepping your house to sell

Last fall we began to consider moving. With the economy and the housing market the way it is, we figured that the earlier we moved the better because we knew a few things: first, I was going to be finished with law school this spring and second, we should ideally be out of our house by that time. David has been working in a different city than where I go to school for the past two years, and while we didn't exactly live apart, we definitely didn't spend as much time together as the average married couple. We were ready for that to change last fall! David absolutely adores his job and so moving to the location of his work was the only option for us.

So, on a whim, we decided to put the house on the market, thinking that if it didn't sell, it would be fine since we could just continue driving and living in our current house, and that if it did sell, we could just quickly find an apartment or a new house. Our house was on the market from very late November until March.

This week, I wanted to write about a few different topics: prepping your house to sell, looking for a new house, finding an agent, and finally moving.

Prepping your house to sell is no easy task. There are a few components to this. First is removing personal items and clutter. Second is keeping the house clean.

Removing your personal items and clutter
You cannot sell your house if you do not remove your personal items and clutter. I think that we probably had too many personal items left in the house, and this includes taking pictures off the walls and tables, removing junk off of shelves, and picking things up off the floor. I know what you are thinking: duh. But believe me, we saw sooo many houses with clutter and just a general disarray that this is obviously not a duh thing for a lot of people. We saw boxed Christmas Santas from 1985, a house that had been egged and not cleaned, and other random objects, which brings me to my next point.

If you have a decorating style that isn't the norm or is unique to you, remove it. One house we looked at had a very weird Western theme running through the entire house. Honestly, their decorations looked dated and the decor of a house truly makes a difference to buyers. When we liked the decor, we liked the house. Our decorating style in our old house was a little funky: every room was painted a different color. The living room was a soft yellow and tan color, the kitchen was deep red, the bedroom was light blue, the study was purple, and the guest room was margarita lime. We did not paint it because our agent reasoned that people will paint over those colors anyway, which is true. However, I think that maybe we should have gone ahead and painted anyway because it probably turned some people off of our house.

I'm not trying to insult everybody, but just don't expect to sell your house if it is decorated with Easter bunnies, Santas, and Thanksgiving turkeys all boxed and on your mantle during the wrong seasons. This brings me to my next point...

Keeping your house clean
You will also not be able to sell your house if it is not clean. PLEASE clean your house. I know this from experience: nobody wants to see your teenage daughter's clothes in a pile on the floor, her curling iron plugged in, and dishes in the sink. Yes, we saw this all. I cleaned our house every day just in case someone came to look at it. My best friend was Method wipes from Target...they were so easy to have on hand to clean. Plus, we have three animals, which makes it harder to keep everything clean.

I'm sure you all have other tips for prepping your house to sell, so please share!

News

Sorry for the absence, but I have big news! We've moved!!!

No, not my blog, but in real life! I mentioned it once or twice, but our house was on the market since November. We finally sold last Thursday and moved on Friday. I want to remember the details about our moving, so I am going to write blog posts about it all this week. Moving is so. much. work. Sheesh. But now it is all over! Woo hoo!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

My Green Monster

Arwen loves this green snake monster thing. I always catch her with it around her body or in her mouth.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Family Pictures

This weekend we took some family pictures at David's mom's house for Easter. The great debate was whether we should wear all one color of shirt or pastels with khaki pants. The younger generation wanted the pastels and the older generation wanted the matching colors, but as you can see, David's parents had four children who outnumber them at decision-making time, and the pastels won. No matter what we chose, we would have looked pretty good, don't you think?

David's sister Sarah took the pictures, or rather, they are from her camera. As my mom said, "that poor woman who has three babies to control had to run back and forth pushing a button for a timer on a camera!?" At any rate, I think they turned out pretty well.


I know what you are thinking and I am wondering this too: how in the world did this furball make it into the family picture when Thorina, Arwen, and Paco were not even invited? Jose could have at least had a haircut for the picture...

Here is one of me and David. I have been really unhappy with how I am smiling in pictures lately. As one of my friends said, it looks like I have been holding my smile for hours, but I had not! I feel like I go in stages: sometimes I have a great camera smile and sometimes I look goofus. I know you will all say I'm crazy and that it looks fine, but I think we are all a little critical of ourselves when taking pictures.
Do any of you have any good smiling tips? My friend Amy once told me to tuck my chin down a bit and look up. She even showed me pics in a yearbook once and it is true: every good looking girl picture involved her chin being down and eyes looking up. Maybe I should have tried that?

Sleepy

Why is this crazy lady taking my picture over and over?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Travel Tuesday: Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Special thanks to Danielle from McAfee Family Blog for writing this week's travel guest post. I love these! Be sure to click over to her blog to give her some blog love

Hello Abbie’s blog readers! I’m Danielle from
McAfee Family Blog and I go to law school with Abbie. I’m writing a guest blog post this week about me and my husband’s trip to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico!

We went to Nuevo Vallarta last May for our honeymoon. It was during the peak of the swine flu heyday and people kept asking if we would cancel our trip, but we didn’t. And I am so glad we went!

We stayed at the Dreams Villamanga Nuevo Vallara, which is an all-inclusive resort right on the beach. It was a brand-new resort and had only been open a few months when we were there, and it was wonderful!

There were five restaurants, 24-hour room service, three swimming pools, an outdoor hot tub (and another one on our balcony), and a private beach. And we had the place almost entirely to ourselves – we aren’t sure if it was because of the swine flu, or just not quite vacation season, but there were probably only about 50 other people there the entire time. It definitely made for a nice, quiet, relaxing trip! And, because the resort was empty, we were upgraded to an ocean-view suite, which was absolutely amazing!

We laid on the beach while the hostess brought us frosty tropical drinks, ate fresh guacamole at every meal, and soaked up the Mexican sun.

The only negative thing I have to say about our trip is that there wasn’t much to do outside of the resort. Nuevo Vallarta is still very much an up-and-coming tourist destination, and most of the local activities, tours, and shopping are located about 20 miles away in Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta is easily accessible by a cab ride from Nuevo Vallarta, but after a run-in with a questionable cab driver at the airport we decided not to risk using the local transportation again and instead just enjoyed the beach at our resort.


Overall, we had a fantastic time in Nuevo Vallarta and I think we would definitely go back again for an inexpensive and relaxing beach vacation. Nuevo Vallarta is definitely a great place to go for a honeymoon or for a romantic couples vacation, but probably isn’t the best choice for a family trip if you have children who get bored easily.


Monday, April 05, 2010

Easter Celebrations

We had a great weekend full of Easter celebrations! On Saturday morning we kicked off the festivities by going to my grandma's house, where we had a great visit. After that, we went to my mom's house and enjoyed making lamb cakes again with my cousins. We had all but two cousins present. Here is a picture of all of us with two significant others:
And me with my bunny:

After that we went to David's mom's house, where we enjoyed seeing relatives. I got to go to my friend Julie's new house with my nephew Noah and see her gorgeous, new (and huge) home!

I didn't get many pictures, but we did have a family picture taken. While I await receipt of those, I will just leave you with this darling picture of Allie, my niece, who I successfully got to sleep on Saturday evening:

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Every Good Friday seems to be a dark and dreary day, and today is no exception. Today is colder and rainy after the last few warm days. As I type this, it is raining outside. I hope you all have a safe and happy Easter weekend, and if you don't celebrate Easter, a good weekend!

Fun Thing Friday: Cadbury

Source

I love Cadbury eggs and they are definitely my Easter candy of choice. After a season of Lent when I try to eat less sweets, it is nice to have a treat of Easter candy. Yum!

I always laugh when I think about my friend Julie and the Creme Eggs: she adores them and always waits until Easter to eat them. I never "liked" them (meaning that I had never tried them) until I met her, and now I eat one or two every year.

What is your favorite Easter candy?




Source

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Happy April Fools' Day!

Unfortunately, I can't think of a joke so I will just wish you a Happy April Fools' Day! I fooled David this morning by telling him that Paco kept me up all night long, barking and growling. He was totally fooled! Duh---Paco would never do that. He is the best dog in the world!

Don't let any tricksters get you today!